Ask Yourself These 7 Questions Before Your Next Performance Review

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We are at that time of year when many receive their performance reviews.  Some of you may have done fantastic, others of you were disappointed.  The way you saw your performance differed from how your boss saw it.

A few questions come to mind that can help you to “far exceed” in your next performance review:

  1. What held you back from getting a “far exceeds”?  What specific actions can you take to get the “far exceeds”? (Make sure they are so tangible that an intelligent third grader could check the box that you met those “far exceeds” expectations.)

  2. What are the means to measure those expectations?

  3. What is the core part of your role? (Another way to ask it is, What is the most important part of your role?)

  4. How can you leverage your strengths to “far exceed” what is expected in the most core part of your role?

  5. How can you show thought leadership (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9253-thought-leadership.html) in your role?

  6. How can you help others on your team to “far exceed”?

  7. Who influences your boss or others who evaluate you?  How can you appropriately make them aware that you are “far exceeding”?


Chew On This:

  • Are there any other questions you can think of that would help you to gain a “far exceeds” rating?  (Please email those to me... Thanks!)





Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams



*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.


One Huge Way To Tailor Your Next Sales Pitch

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Salespeople are always looking for a meaningful way to connect with a prospect as quickly as possible.  If they knew more about the prospect, especially their personality type, they could tailor their pitch in a style better designed to reach them.  


Fortunately, Myers-Briggs has given salespeople a huge leg up in this arena.  Research has shown that 75% of all people are Sensors.  


* Sensors are concrete, detailed-oriented people who are focused on the here and now.  


* They are drawn to physical realities--what they can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.  


* Sensors like facts. They are practical; they learn best when someone shows them how they can use the information they are being taught.  


* Sensors will do things according to how experience has taught them to do it rather than try a new, unproven solution.  To Sensors, talk is cheap.  They want evidence.  


* As a group, Sensors are greatly concerned with the bottom line.


* When delivering facts, Sensors will move sequentially through them.  



So what does that mean for those of you in sales?


When you don’t know a prospect’s personality type, assume they are a Sensor. Until they show you that they want the big picture, talk in metaphors or generalities, or talk about the meaning behind the facts you are sharing.  If they seem bored with details, they are part of the 25% of us who are Intuitives.  


To best reach Sensors with your pitch:

  • Focus on concrete facts

  • Discuss the steps involved in the correct sequence

  • Emphasize immediate or short-term benefits

  • Build credibility by emphasizing relevant experience

  • When outlining an idea, state when the details will be sorted out and who will do it.


You will want to over-prepare for the meeting as they may want to dive deep into details.  Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, but assure them you will get back to them with the answer to their detailed questions.  Make sure you follow through thoroughly and as quickly as possible.


If you are pitching to someone higher up in an organization, you don't want to waste their time. Even the leader is a Sensor, they may be able to put together the details through a bullet point.  So you will need to anticipate that: adjust the pitch by saying you will give the high level bullet points, and then will dive in deep to the bullet points they want details on.


As a side note, if you discover early on in your pitch that the leader is not a Sensor, be sure to adjust the presentation to a more Intuitive style.  Our next blog will discuss how to create a presentation for them.




Chew On This:

  • Which of your prospects are you sure are Sensors?  What do they have in common





Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams



*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.


25 Questions To Consider Before Starting A New Project

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You receive an email where you read that you've been put in charge of a project. Your boss wants to sit down with you to talk through the details tomorrow.


What questions should you ask that will help set you up for success?


Consider these:

  1. Is there a clear, tangible objective to this project? If so, what is it?  If not, how can we make it clear and tangible?

  2. What is the most essential part of this project?

  3. How will we know we've succeeded?

  4. What happens if this project is not successful?

  5. How is this project tied to the greater organization?

  6. When is this project due?

  7. What are the key milestones that must be met?

  8. What is it about me that led you to choose me to lead this project?

  9. What are your expectations of me?  The team?

  10. May I share how I work best?  May we talk about how my workstyle lines up with your expectations?

  11. Who is the actual client?

  12. Who is the point of contact?

  13. Who is RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted & Informed)?

  14. How does each RACI want to be communicated with, to what level of detail, and when?

  15. How will I be held accountable for this project?  

  16. Has this project been done before?

  17. What things should I do immediately to set this project up for success?

  18. What obstacles should I expect to find in completing this project?

  19. How high does the project compare with the other projects I'm working on?

  20. What support will I have in completing this project?

  21. What skills are necessary to complete this project successfully?

  22. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team who will be working with me on this?

  23. How can I gain each team member’s commitment to see the project through to successful completion?

  24. How will this project be delivered?

  25. What should I have asked you that I didn't ask you?


Chew On This:

  • Which questions above especially stand out to you?





Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams




*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.



Confessions of a Perfectionist

I haven’t written a blog post in over two months. I want to write something from my heart - something that will grab your attention and lead you to share this blog with all of your friends. If I’m honest, I want more than that. I want you and your friends to hire my team and I.

So it feels like I have to be authentic, relevant, and insightful. I’ve filled myself with a perfectionistic pressure, creating a level of expectation that I cannot meet. So, yes. It’s been two months. I hid behind busyness when I needed to just be vulnerable, real, and let you in.

What is perfectionism?

Perfectionism is an attempt to control or manage ourselves, others, and others' perceptions of us - and it often thrives on intangible goals. In the workplace, perfectionism can be a chronic source of stress that actually leads to procrastination and a lack of productivity. When we are worried about accomplishing intangible goals, we tend to bypass or dismiss the attainable ones that lead to progress. In an attempt to be perceived as productive and successful, we then mask our procrastination with busyness. The hardest part of perfectionism is the drive to stay hidden instead of risk being vulnerable and seen.

The first goal, then, is to recognize the presence of perfectionism in our lives and become aware of its' impact on ourselves, our work, and our relationships.

  • As a leader, how often have you hid behind busyness instead of letting your team or others in?
  • How much have you let perfectionism get in the way of connection?

Next, we can choose to be vulnerable, let our flaws be seen, and let trusted people into our perfectionism and the fear that drives it.

  • What would happen if you let your team into the insecure places of your heart?
  • What if they joined you and felt a freedom to be real with you as well?

Finally, we can choose to see it as an opportunity for growth, shared human experience, and connection with our team.

  • What would it be like to see your team come alive, engage, and accept you right where you are?
  • What would it be like to become an agent for real change where your team knows they can be human at work?

No need for them to hide, manipulate or front that they have it together. No need to live in fear of being exposed. Every team member will know that they can be who they are and be accepted, wanted and pushed to be their best self.

Ultimately, cultivating authentic relationships is the key to building healthy teams and organizational cultures.

In authentic relationships, trust soars and people can easily see your strengths and know how to leverage them for the good of all. In teams that value authenticity, politics are at a minimum, engagement is high, turnover is low, people produce more and go about their work with far less confusion.

It feels risky to be real. Yet when someone in the room risks being real, the rest of us admire them and feel a pull to be real as well.

Someone has to start that. You as the leader are the best one to start.

Chew On This:

  • What step will you take to be real today?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

 

Lessons I Learned in 2017

It’s the last blog of 2017 for me.  It was a fantastic year, filled with many huge changes (to be discussed in a future blog post), and some valuable lessons for my team and me. At the end of a year, we take time to reflect on what has worked well, where there is room to grow, and what lessons we hope to carry over into the new year. Here are four valuable lessons from 2017: 1. Ask what your team expects of you regularly.

This year we’ve grown to a team of six (part-time and full-time) and are probably going to add a seventh in the next couple of months.  The growth has felt organic, more focused on the relationship than revenue.  We genuinely like being around each other and working together.

Recently, we outlined ways in which our work relationship would go.  We defined in a general way what the expectation for each member’s role is.  However, I wished I had asked each of them what they expected of me.

The team has shown great appreciation for what I have given, but I also learned that some of how I was trying to help were not as useful.  It was incredibly freeing to hear that I did not have to do as much.

I also saw that as time went on and we engaged different projects, I needed consistently to ask, “What do you expect from me as you engage this project?” I had tended to assume (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me), and I needed a clear understanding of expectations.

2. Sharpen the interpersonal dynamics as you go.

Another lesson learned is to actively clear any issues in interpersonal team dynamics as you go.  Since our team gets along so well with each other, what we needed to clear were tweaks, not major issues.  But even these tweaks were valuable.

Talking about how we experience one another has helped us to make personal shifts.  Capturing things in the moment helped us to notice that the dynamic of what was happening in ourselves was at play.  That awareness created great personal growth for us.

Also, it has been helpful to share what things, when we do them, really foster better relational dynamics.  So saying “When you did X, I felt engaged and alive” is the kind of statement that helped us understand what to do more for each other.

3. Diversify client base sooner.

Our largest client had crept up to 35% of revenue.  While we love working with them, 35% felt uncomfortable.  This year we took more active strides to diversify the client base than we ever had.  Carving out time to get out there and network has helped us to grow and to learn things from companies that have benefited all our clients.  I wish I had not sacrificed business development as much as I have for the immediate work that was presented.  Moreover, I wish I had hired faster so that I could spend more time developing the business.

4. Allow myself to be me, sooner, and not try to do it like everyone else.

Typically, coaching meetings are 1 hour long.  Early in 2017, a client had only 30 minutes, but we found that we did as much work in that 30min meeting as we had done in 60mins.  So I started experimenting with other clients and found the same thing.  Consistently they told me that they loved the “laser coaching” better than the 60min meetings.

There are plenty of coaches who use the laser coaching style.  I am built for it. I am more focused, think faster, ask better questions, and am not afraid to say hard things.  My clients are also more focused, come in prepared, can process what’s going on, and are much quicker to develop great plans for the issues they came to the meeting to resolve. They leave empowered, engaged, and eager to implement.  Moreover, the cost of laser sessions is less to them.  Win-Win all the way around.

As more and more clients chose the laser style of coaching, I wondered what had stopped me from doing this sooner?  Then it hit me: without realizing it, I had been following the example of some coaches whom I greatly admired.  They would never even consider having 30min meetings rather than 60min meetings.

They are great at what they do, but I needed to set myself up to do my best work, even if it is not in their style.

How about you?  What were the lessons you learned in 2017? I encourage you to sit with your team and explore these questions:

  • What has worked in 2017?
  • What are growth areas for 2018?
  • How will you measure this growth?
  • What are specific goals for each member within your team?
  • How can you help each other in reaching those goals?

I would love to hear from you and compare.

Have a fantastic holiday season! Looking forward to connecting in the new year.

Chew On This:

  • How can you perform your role in a way that is most you?
  • How can your team learn from this year and encourage each other in the new year?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that supports leaders in developing in-demand high performing teams.

The Surprising Difference Gratitude Makes for Business Performance

It’s that time of the year.... As we enter the month of November, Thanksgiving is upon us and many of us bloggers write about gratitude. I am no exception to that.  One thing that I want to stress this year is that gratitude makes a surprising difference to business performance.

Look at these stats....

  • Gratitude actually improves our quality of sleep. In one study, people who kept a gratitude journal slept about 30 minutes more per night, woke up feeling more refreshed, and had an easier time staying awake during the day compared to those who didn’t practice gratitude.
  • The practice of gratitude is linked to lower levels of hostility and aggression. Consistently practicing gratitude can decrease aggression by 20-30%.
  • The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study on blood flow in certain brain regions when feelings of gratitude are present. The study showed an increase in hypothalamic activity, which has a positive influence on metabolism and stress levels.

For some of us, these stats make sense.  We’ve led lives that have a good deal of gratitude in them.  But for the majority of us, we have not led such lives.

Gratitude seems elusive.  It seems to happen without our control.  What if I told you there was a way you could become grateful right now, no matter what mood you are in? It's possible!

Where Does Gratitude Come In

First, we will look at how gratitude comes and then we will use a tool that will shift us into a state of gratitude.

Gratitude comes when:

  • A hard time is resolved.
  • We receive a gift that hit home.
  • We focus on what’s beautiful regardless of whatever hard circumstances we are facing.
  • Someone shares their gratitude story, and through being empathetic, we feel grateful as well.
  • We remember times in the past when we felt grateful.

What we need to do is have one place we can turn to that chronicles the times in the past when we were grateful and repeatedly turn to that tool whenever we sense we’ve become entitled, arrogant, down or just know we need to experience more gratitude.

I've developed a Gratitude Chronicle to help us track our gratefulness.

  1. In column A, write the date in which the event happened.
  2. Column B assumes that there was a really tough time you went through before you felt grateful. You want to detail the facts and what you felt about the facts to such a degree that you start to feel those dark emotions again. Please don't move to the next column until you start to feel those darker emotions.
  3. In column C, you want to detail the facts and what you felt about the facts as to how it was resolved. You should describe these so well that you lift out of the dark emotions into a state of gratitude.
  4. Column D involves listing times when you felt grateful for other reasons such as you receiving a gift, joyful moments throughout the day, or intentionally seeking gratitude in mundane life. Finally, you can also list times that you felt grateful through someone else’s gratitude story.

Do you want a template for what that can look like?

My Experience with Gratitude

Here is one of my entries for each of the gratitude categories we discussed above:

Hard Time Lifted

When I was first starting my practice, I had a bunch of referral sources tell me that they were going to send me clients. With all of the anticipated revenues, I rented a small office, developed marketing materials, and began to take other referral sources to lunches. The first month, only one new client showed. The next month another showed. Then for the next three months, there weren't any new clients.

I wondered what happened. Referral sources said they were surprised that none of their referrals had contacted me.

I was feeling really anxious.  My wife was a stay-at-home mom, and we had three kids under three. I was starting to doubt if we were going to make it.

We even considered moving in with her parents, who are the best in-laws anyone could hope for, but we did not want to burden them or wreck their pristinely-organized home with three kids’ worth of toys.

As things seemed desperate and when it felt like something needed to give, I sent out tons of resumes and got no responses. The country was in a bad recession, and it was hard for a veteran of self-employment to be seen as an attractive prospect.

Then it happened. In one week, 15 new clients showed up, and within six weeks several training gigs had landed.

I remembered when I complained to my wife about the pace at which I was working she turned to me and said, “I'm just grateful we don't just have a handful of clients.”

Then the gratitude hit me. In the busyness of serving, I had not taken the time to dig into gratitude.

Received a Gift

For a year, I lived with a really talented artist. I was particularly drawn to one of his paintings. So, he gave me a print of his work. I moved a few times after that year to be closer to work, then to grad school, then into the new place my wife and I chose after we married.

In the process of all of these moves, I thought I lost the print and was bummed about it.

Unbeknownst to me, my wife hunted high and low in our basement, found it, and had it framed. She then wrapped it in a beautiful Christmas wrapping and presented it to me on Christmas morning.

It was the best Christmas gift she had ever given me. I was incredibly grateful.

Someone Else's Gratitude Story

Four years ago, a client was placed at the helm of a stagnant team. The division that he was now heading was viewed as insignificant. Within three years, he and the team tripled the revenue of that division. They were seen as the golden team. Then, through an unforeseen event, they started the new year severely down. It looked like the golden team was going to bronze over as there were no ideas as to how to turn the revenues around.

Instead of lowering the bar, he kept the goal the same and had a team meeting to talk about how they were handling the downturn.

Then, as high performing teams do, they got creative and worked smart.

A few months later, he let me know that their smart work paid off. They had turned the situation around and were going to exceed the original goal.

Sensing his gratitude for the turnaround, I started smiling from ear to ear. I felt so grateful. It is such a great turnaround that when I think of the details of what he and his team did, I immediately feel grateful.

What are Three Things You Are Grateful For Today?

When I was struggling to see good in life, my wife bought a bunch of plaques with gratitude messages on them and strategically placed them around the house where I could see them from my usual places to sit.

If she saw I was down, she would come up to me and ask me, "What are three things that you are grateful for?" This simple question asked with frequency was extremely helpful.

Now, from time to time, I ask myself that question, and I capture it in the Gratitude Chronicle.

Gratitude is an amazing gift that does wonders for our spirit. It can change the perspective on a dark time. Taking it seriously will pay dividends.

Chew On This:

  • What’s going to be your first gratitude entry?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

How Can You Hold Effective One-On-One Meetings with Direct Reports?

As a leader, your time is tight. If you have more than 4 or 5 direct reports, then time is even more crunched. One-on-one meetings may feel counter-productive when you have limited time and the option to meet virtually. However, these meetings are a key opportunity you have to develop each of those direct reports.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money, says "One-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager."

These are times when they can learn from you what it takes to get to the next level, and you can learn from them what is happening closer to the front-line and gain more practice developing a flexible management style.

Do your directs look forward to their one-on-one times with you?  Do you look forward to them?

The higher up you are, the more structure you will need to have since you will have fewer one-on-one times per month.

Here are a few tips that should help in establishing effective one-on-ones:

1. Come prepared.

One of the first one-on-one conversations you should have with your directs is how to have a one-on-one.

Is there a structure that you want to follow?  How about them?  What would make that time most valuable to them?

There is probably going to be a lot of overlap between the two of you but for clarity’s sake, encourage them to share their expectations, and you share yours.

After you’ve established what one-on-one’s are going to look like, you will know how to prepare for those meetings (see below).

Send an agenda for the one-on-one a couple of days in advance.  Be sure you have learned what it is they most want to talk about during their one-on-one.  Ideally, agenda items should be phrased as questions since questions get people thinking about answers.

This will help you both to prepare or at least start thinking about the topics.

2. Determine how often you will have one-on-ones and where.

Some direct reports may need more time than others, especially those who are newer to their role.  It is important to determine the pace of the meetings and stick to it.

3. Create an environment of focus.

One of the keys to effective one-on-one's is to create an environment where both of you can be fully present and focused.

Silencing or turning off phones completely helps.  But so does making sure there are no interruptions.

Another way to create a high level of focus is to shorten the meetings.  This forces both of you to be sharp.

4. Create a dialogue.

One-on-one meetings should feel more like a dialogue and less like a monologue.  One way to accomplish this is to start personally (see below).  Another is by starting with what the direct wants to talk about.  A third is by asking open-ended questions.  This limits the amount you speak and encourages your directs to say a lot more.

5. Start personally.

What is meaningful to them in life in general?  For many, it is going to be their families or another significant relationship.  For some, it is going to be favorite hobbies, restaurants, or adventures.  Show them that you care by remembering what matters to them.

Moving this way helps both you and your direct to be positive, open and vulnerable, ready to engage the meeting in a spirit of trust and collaboration.

Use your humor.  Laughing bonds people together.  Having a team that is tight with one another and with you will go far in developing the high performing team you’ve always wanted.

6. Start with a Win.

If each of you can share a win that you’ve had since the last time you met, that will go a long way in making the conversation positive.

7. Move to the core - discover what your report is doing in the most important area of their role.

Since time is usually tight, many clients have found it helpful to start with the most important area of their direct report’s role.  This is the point where you especially want to have influence.  It can help set them up for success.  Moreover, their best results will come by focusing on what is essential (cue Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism).

As part of your preparation, know what you want to know about the core.  Brainstorm here so that they can see how you process.  Also, they can sense how much you believe in them through this collaboration.

8. Update on project.

There is probably a project that you especially want to keep an eye on.  Typically, you do that by receiving email updates ahead of the meeting, then the update during your one-on-one is more about moving the project further.

This could also be a brainstorming time.  It could be an opportunity to discover the obstacles that your direct is facing, which you could help them remove.

Here is where you want to know how you could be of most value to them as they work on this key project.

9. Find ways to increase engagement.

You want to get a feel for what their overall engagement is like.  Do they love their role? Company? Their team? You?  What would help increase their engagement?

Getting a pulse on engagement is really important with your higher-performing directs.  Throughout the meeting find ways to increase their engagement by giving them opportunities to do the things that generate engagement for that specific direct report.

10. Feedback.

Feedback doesn’t need to be limited to formal reviews.  Start by sharing something you are grateful for concerning their performance since the last meeting.  Then give them some positive affirmations about their work, and one thing to focus on improving.  This kind of interaction can go a long way.

Hopefully, the more this becomes part of the dynamic between you and them, the more you will see how to help them grow and build upon their strengths.

11. Ask, “What can I do better?”

Asking for feedback is your chance to grow further.  You might not be able to accomplish everything all your directs want, but it is likely that gaining their feedback and modeling change and growth will go far for everyone on the team.

12. Both sides should send an email to one another with next steps

At the end of the meeting, it would be helpful to talk through next steps for each of you.  Get buy-in, and then each of you should send an email with those next steps to each other to make sure that you both are on the same page and know what each of you is empowered to do.

Chew On This:

  • What has been your experience with effective one-on-one meetings?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

How To Effectively Deal With Anxiety In 15 Minutes or Less

One of the top struggles for leaders is learning how to manage their anxiety. As a leader, you carry an incredible amount of responsibility. You have people counting on you. You want to continue to grow and excel, and you want to have an impact. Given the complexity of the obstacles before a leader, their anxiety can often go through the roof.  However, they know that they are being watched carefully, by those who report to them, peers, and those they themselves are accountable to.  Consequently, many try to stuff their anxiety. They “act as if” everything is okay, finding the silver lining in whatever it is they are going through, and waiting till no one is around to allow themselves to fully feel the anxiety that is just under the surface.

Studies have shown that some amount of anxiety can actually help performance.  However, many times anxiety can get so strong that it works against us.  We are not able to generate solutions. We may find ourselves unable to fall asleep, or we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back asleep. Or we may start stress-eating, or stress-fasting.  Perhaps we are not fully present in meetings, or are not hearing our direct reports when they really need us.  Anxiety can take different guises.

I want to offer a simple, tangible tool to decrease your anxiety in the workplace (and in your personal life!).

Do you want to deal effectively with your anxiety in 15 minutes or less?

Download this Excel spreadsheet and I will walk you through a way to do just that. Afterwards, I will give you an example of how I used it to overcome one of my worst recurring anxieties.

Looking at the worksheet, follow me along. You need to be detailed in columns B-F.  The more details, the more you should feel your anxiety being impacted as you go from column to column.

Column A: The date when you are doing this exercise for the anxiety you are currently facing (no details here :-)

Column B: Write in detail the absolute worst case scenario that could arise from the situation that is currently making you anxious.  Describe the factors that make this the worst case scenario, and write what you would feel if that scenario arose.  Do not hold back on details in this column.  You know you are doing a great job if your anxiety picks up, or you can clearly recognize that your anxiety would be horribly higher if that worst case scenario were to happen.  Once you feel that, immediately go to column C.

Column C: Write what good options can come if the absolute worst case scenario happened.  If you did a good job in column B, it should be hard to think of more than one good thing that could come from that worst case scenario.  This is where you have to break down the question by relating it to specific parts of life.  In other words, what good could come....

  • Vocationally
  • Relationally
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Financially
  • Spiritually
  • Physically
  • For each person directly impacted from the scenario
  • For loved ones
  • For your team
  • For your overall organization
  • Etc.

You know you can stop thinking of options when the edge has been taken off the anxiety and you are starting to feel hope.  You probably still feel anxious, but it has gone down a couple of notches and you can begin to see a way forward.  Then go to Column D.

Column D: Describe the actual scenario you find yourself in.  Once again, you want to state the facts of what you feel along with what you would feel about the facts.  You need to be detailed here.  Really describe it until you can taste it.

Column E: Generate options for what good things can come from Column D.  Since you have found options through the worst case scenario, you should see options for column E.  Literally, you can copy and paste many of the ones from Column C, but here you will get more specific about what you’re actually facing.  You need to keep generating options until you feel hope and your anxiety has gone down tremendously.

My Personal Success Story

Here is a template for what this exercise could look like.  It is a bit embarrassing for me to share this, but it proves how well this tool works.

I used to write business plans for a living and, with the exception of two years of my life, I have always run my own business.  I went to business school and studied business cycles.  So you would think that I would not get overly anxious about the down side of the business cycle in a calendar year.

Yet, despite all of the evidence that shows how predictable the down time is, and even more, the clear evidence that things pick up at about the same time every year, I used to get really anxious during the downtime of the business cycle.

My wife would always look at me and say, “It was like this last year” or “This year is not as bad as last year." And sure enough, things would start to turn around. But year after year, I lived with anxiety.

So if you have the What Good Could Come From This? spreadsheet up, let me walk you through what has put a permanent stop to this recurring anxiety.

A few years ago, I wrote the date in Column A.

Then in Column B, I wrote out the absolute worst case scenario that could come from the downtime in the business cycle.  Here is what I wrote:

During a down business cycle, not just 20-25% of clients drop, but all drop.  As much as I try to generate income for my family, we wind up losing all of our assets, including our house.  Then my wife, my kids, and my in-laws are forced to live under a bridge.  I would see them suffering and feel guilty, ashamed, desperate, isolated.  I would believe it was all my fault that this scenario happened and I would feel crushed by it.

When I got to Column C, I could hardly think of one good thing that could come from the worst case scenario.  So I focused on what good could come in different parts of my life.  Here is what I saw, and I wrote:

Any time I have gone through a career change, a better option has emerged. It could happen again in just the same way. My wife and I have always been tight during hard times - this one could be the same.  I could get more time with my kids.  My in-laws are incredibly gracious and resourceful.  They would help brainstorm ideas. I would be walking a lot more so I would be in better shape.  If I lost all my assets, then anything that gets added would be better financially.  I would have more time to think and get creative.  I could even get positive about this situation if I saw good things come.  It would teach me to be mentally resilient.  I could see people at my church help us in unexpected ways.  God and I could get tighter and I could see Him act in unexpected ways.  Those on my team could find other opportunities.  They are gifted and resourceful as well.  Or they would brainstorm options with me and our company could emerge better than ever.

At that point, I started to feel a little better and had a little hope, so I jumped to Column D.  I described the actual scenario as follows:

There are only two times of the year when the business cycle is lower.  Just as summer is starting there is a brief 10-15% drop. It lasts a couple of weeks and then picks up again, especially with more training gigs.  Then, a week before Thanksgiving through the second or third week in January, there is a 20-25% drop.  Although I get really anxious during this time, all that happens is that we eat out less and we dip into savings a little.  But I get really anxious and believe that it is going to dry up.  I get clouded, don't make the most of the time I have, stay down despite others noting that we experience this drop every year. The holidays help but I am still somewhat distracted.

Then when I got to Column E, it was much easier to generate options for what good could come from the actual scenario.  Here is what I wrote:

  • Vocationally - I have time to do what I don't get enough time to do (i.e. business development, train the team, get ahead on blogs, get trained on the things that will advance clients, take a longer vacation, etc.)
  • Relationally - I can take advantage of the situation and spend more time with my wife and kids.  It would be great to hang more with friends.
  • Emotionally - I can rest up more and do a better job at processing my own emotions.
  • Physically - I can work out more--go after more FitBit Workweek Hustles and beat top competitors.
  • Financially - I can review how my company and family spend money, and eliminate where we are wasting money or find better, more economical ways to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
  • Mentally - I can dream more, focus on gratitude more, do more brain games, even get unplugged more.
  • Spiritually - I can up the times I spend connecting to God in ways that have been meaningful.  My wife and I can take an extra weekend away right in the middle of the holiday rushes.  The kids and I can do more fun things.  The team and I could also do a fun holiday party.  Our company can volunteer and help others.

By the time I was done, I felt great.

I’ve found that in order to experience what I did, you have to give Columns B-E lots of detail, especially in the emotional description of what you could feel (if the worst case scenario happened) or what you are currently feeling (from the actual case scenario).  Then you have to generate lots of options in Column E.

You are going to feel so much hope if you do a good job of generating options.  Capture that hope in Column F.  So I wrote:

I feel hopeful and alive.  I feel free.

The very next year, not only did I not have fear going into the biggest drop in the cycle, but I was looking forward to all the things I would do that would move the needle forward.

Clients who have used this tool share that after they have used it a few times, when they face the next anxious moment and open up the spreadsheet, in the process of scrolling down to the next free row, they don’t even have to write anything because the reminder of how they felt hope when using this tool has led them to feel hope about the current situation.

Moreover, clients have shared that eventually, they begin to feel hope when they just see the spreadsheet in their Finder window.

What’s been freaky to hear is that some clients who were diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder and were being medicated for it, have had their meds reduced, and a few have even gotten off anxiety meds completely.

Genuinely hoping this tool pays as many dividends for you as it has for them and for me.

Chew On This:

  • What would remind you to use the What Good Could Come From This tool the next time you feel anxious?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that equips leaders to develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

 

What To Do When Joining a Pre-Existing Team as the New Leader

You just got promoted, or maybe you just took a leadership position in a new company. Regardless, you will probably find yourself leading a pre-existing team. Team members know each other well, but you are the new one on the team.

Here are a few tips that clients have found to be universal principles of success for this scenario.

Building Rapport and Establishing Trust

1. Get to know your team well.

The faster you can build a connection with each member of the team, the more you will understand each other. You will build trust. You and your team members will discover how to leverage each other's strengths and contain one another's weaknesses.  More than that, you will be building a foundation for bringing the team to the next level.

2. Learn who the influencers in the company are.

In whatever organization you are in, there are certain people who have tremendous influence. Many times it is the leaders, but often you may discover that there is an administrative assistant who seems to hold a lot of influence.  Don't forget that each team has a member who is not the leader, but who wields a lot of sway over the others on the team.  As early as you can, you want to be actively building relationships with those people. Influencers can help you bust through obstacles. They can catalyze other relationships for you. Influencers also help with that next promotion. But even more than that, they will help you master the role you are in. Get to know who they are and build relationships with them.

3. Go through Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, for yourself, your team, and if possible, with your boss.

One of the first things you will need to understand is what is the most important part of your role, your team’s role, and your boss’ role. This book will help you do just that.  The more you, your team, and your boss are focused on the most important part of your roles, the more you all will move to the next level.

4. Find a base hit that is at the core of your role, your team’s role, or your boss’ role and fulfill it within 90 days.

Many start in a new role and just want to observe.  Others start, but they want to make a big grand slam home run right away.

In most cases, I've discovered that the clients who deliver base hits are the ones who win over their stakeholders and fellow associates.

Look for something that’s important in your role, your team’s overall role, or your boss’ role, where a base hit can be created.

If you can consistently deliver base hits, you will achieve remarkable results for you and your team.

Be sure to have one completed within the first 90 days so that it influences the perception people have of you.

5. Observe, observe, observe.

You will probably need to become a student for awhile, learning from your team members, peers, and boss how to accomplish meaningful actions.

You need to get the lay of the land first. If you try to make big bold moves right away, you may not realize until it’s too late that the big bold move was a colossal mistake because it did not fit the way the team or department works.

People tend to struggle with change. They want to build trust with you before things become massively different. Give them a chance to do that, and you will see how much more buy-in you will get.

Congratulations on landing the new position. You have the competence to pull off what you were hired to do. Now it is time to apply some principles and emotional intelligence to build relationships and set a foundation for major impact.

Enjoy the ride.

Chew On This:

  • What can you do to know your team better?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

What I Learned About Being A Great Direct Report From An 18-Year-Old Intern

On Thursday of last week, I said goodbye to the youngest intern RCBA has ever had. She only worked with us for about six weeks, but she made such an impact that it was really hard to see her leave.

Megan is sharp, mega-talented, and has a keen strategic mind, but beyond all of that competence, she knows how to connect to people’s hearts, really commit, and fight hard to do what she does with excellence and love.

Let me give you an example. As my team is growing, I wanted to learn more about how I can lead them better. (Yes, I see the irony of the leadership coach wanting more insight on how to lead his own team.)

So I asked Megan to do some research on best practices, hoping to learn new ways to improve my leadership, which I could then pass on to clients.  Not only did she do precisely what I asked her to do, but without my asking her, she tailored her research to my personality type (ENFJ) and, more specifically, to what she had already learned about me.

When I read what she wrote, I was speechless.

I then gave her more responsibilities, which she mastered just as deftly. Then, with clients’ permission, she listened in on meetings and helped improve our trainings.

She has all the marks of someone who will go far in anything she decides to do.

If I take what I learned from her and add what I've learned from the other super talented team members we have at RCBA, I can see there are traits or practices that could lead to excelling in any role in virtually any company.

7 Traits of an Excellent Direct Report

1. Give your heart to what you do.

Are you just existing? Do you come alive when you are working? Is work just a paycheck? What if it were possible for you to come alive at work if you gave yourself to it?

I don't mean you should make work the number one priority in your life. That's not it. I mean fully commit to doing whatever is necessary to produce excellence during the hours that you are there. Invest, make sacrifices, find ways to make it fun, get to know those you work with, leverage their strengths, etc.

If you are in a toxic environment or doing something that really isn't you, then consider making a change. We spend so much time at work we might as well be fully engaged while we’re there. You have the power to increase your own engagement: just commit, invest, and sacrifice for it.

2. Set boundaries.

Megan and I could really enable each other to reach workaholic levels, but one thing Michael and Haley taught me was to set limits according to priorities.

For example, my wife and kids are a higher priority than work.  Intentionally blocking off time during the week, rarely working on Saturday and not working at all on Sundays has helped to cherish and grow my relationships with them. Having non-negotiable blocks for my wife and kids has helped me to make the most of my time at work and has helped me to enjoy work more.

3. Improve core competencies.

If you want to have a high impact at work, look for the most important thing which your role, your boss’ role and/or your team’s role requires, and start there. You will feel a ton of gratitude come your way.

4. Know yourself and your team well.

Megan is a self-professed Myers-Briggs geek. She leverages her ENTJ strengths and adapts to other personality types to foster greater communication and reduce the chance of conflict.

Ask each team member:

  • How to work successfully with them
  • How to energize them
  • What frustrates them
  • What stresses them out
  • What they are looking to improve about themselves
  • What they look like when they are chronically stressed, and how to best help them if they are there. (Often it is providing them with something that energizes them.)

Be sure to give them your answers to the bullet points above. We created templates for each personality type that you can use. You can find them here.

5. Manage up well.

Your boss does some things really well.  Other things could use improvement.

Megan was great at being able to see what I needed help with, and to fill in that gap.  She also gave some tips in passing that were very helpful.

If your boss wants to grow, that would be helpful.

6. Go beyond what you were asked to do.

If you always look for a way you can go beyond what you were asked to do, this will show your boss that you want to exceed expectations.  Don’t be surprised if your reviews and bonuses reflect that.

Make sure you complete what you were asked to do and then, in a separate part, show how you went beyond.

7. Risk sharing how things can be improved.

Ask how and when you can share some things that you believe could be improved.  Make sure that you are asking from a place of humility, not know-it-all arrogance.

Once you are given permission, say I’ve noticed X.  I wonder if Y could be a way to improve X.

Then let the brainstorming begin.

Becoming a valued resource for your boss, team, or company starts by committing not just your head but your heart to the role.  Looking for ways to go beyond sets you up for promotion and for leaving a lasting legacy in your role.

Chew On This:

  • What would help you to commit both your head and your heart to what you do?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.